Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Metrics from Online Sharing -- the numbers are not high, which is both good and bad news

If you've got a blog or a Twitter feed, or you're an online marketer (including PR), you want to drive traffic to your site, Twitter feed, etc.

And if you're an online marketer, and your client or boss is reluctant, one of the things you need to do is defend the ROI of social media.

And that has not been easy to do.

As I've discussed, each organization brings different skill sets, goals, experience and connections with their target audiences -- so the metrics that matter may be vastly different. My metrics may not be relevant to yours, unlike circulation figures for print magazines, which is an apple-to-apple comparison.

In "Share the Moment and Spread the Wealth: The Big Business of Driving Traffic Back to a Web Site," the New York Times' Brad Stone goes beyond an introductory article on the topic. (The paper of record finds itself often covering the basics so that it can then write deeper articles.)

Stone gets someone to provide hard metrics.

Ok, so Justin.TV disclosed that visitors to its site now share links from the site 6,000 times a day (up from 2,000 per day), now that it uses Meebo. That 200-percent increase translates into 68 percent growth in traffic to the Justin.TV site -- a big drop off, but a much, much better return than direct mail's typical 1-percent response rate.

What's interesting is that the CEO ShareThis reported hard numbers for retweeting. ShareThis provides sharing tools to major sites like FoxNews.com and ESPN.com. According to the Times,
When readers post a link from a ShareThis site onto Twitter, their followers often “retweet” the link to their own Twitter groupies. As a result, 18 Twitter users, on average, click on that link and visit the site. A single link to a story posted on LinkedIn, the professional social network, generates around eight visitors; Digg gets five clicks for every link posted to the site," ShareThis reported.
So, the good news: above are some metrics with which to compare your efforts. You may not be doing as badly as you thought.

The bad news: That's a lot of effort to generated 18 click-throughs, and that's for content from some very professional sites. And perhaps those 18 new visitors can help boost page view and stickiness metrics to tout to advertisers, but it still seems like a long way to go before that gets monetized.

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